Updated 30 March 2015

The top 5 regrets of dying people

A book by a palliative nurse lists the top five regrets of the dying. How many of these do you share?


If today were your last day on earth, what would be your biggest regret? A palliative nurse who has spent many years counselling people on their deathbeds has written a very moving book which lists the five most common regrets most people revealed during their last days.

The Australian nurse, Bronnie Ware, recorded the dying epiphanies in a blog called "Inspiration and Chai", which she later converted into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Here are the top five regrets:

 1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Ware says this was the most common sentiment in all the people she counselled and said that as they looked back on their life they realised how many of their own dreams had not been fulfilled. She says, “Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

This profound regret was top of the list for all of Ware’s male patients as they regretted spending more time working than with their families. “All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Ware says that many of her patients regretted not revealing their true feelings about certain situations, and therefore living a life that wasn’t truly reflective of who they were. Sadly, she says that many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Many patients expressed regret that they had lost touch with old friends over the years, being so caught up in their own life that they had let good relationships slide. “Everyone misses their friends when they are dying," says Ware.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Ware says this regret was very common in all her patients as “they didn’t realise until the end that happiness is a choice".  She adds that many of them feared change too much to change their life, and stayed in their comfort zones, which at the end of the day, didn’t leave them fulfilled – or happy.


What is your biggest regret so far? E-mail us


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.